How to Buy a Rod and the Summer Internet Garage Sale
by Mike Hogue

Since fishing season is upon us, I thought I would spend some time writing about fly rods. This info is useful to anyone that is thinking about buying a new rod. Many people are confused by some of the terms we use in fly fishing. A good deal ofcommerical jargon is also out there which adds to the confusion.

Let's look at several terms which are important:

Rod Length: Rods come in all sorts of sizes. Lengths are usally given in feet. Originally rods were made only in short lengths, because early materials like cane were not available in long lengths, this is why sometimes you see a 7 foot salmon rod. Shorter rods are less likely to get hung up in trees and brush are mostly used in spring creeks and small streams. Longer length rods allow more line pick-up and make mending and roll casting easier. Longer rods also have more leverage and strength to fight bigger fish. Usually a 9 foot rod is used in rivers, open water or from boat fishing.

Extra long rod lengths of 10, 11 or 14 are rods which are used in float tubing, boating or spey fishing. A spey rod in 14 lengths is useful in that it allows a whole line to be picked up and cast. This sort of outfit is best used on REALLY large western rivers. In our New York tribs, spey casting is generally wasted space since the stream is only 40 feet wide. Spey rods don't cast very well until you get 60-80 feet out. So as far as I know the only place to Spey cast in these parts is the Deleware ( which would scare the crap out of trout) or the Sesquahanna which is a warmwater only.

Grips: A Grip is where you hold the rod. They keep your hands from sliding and give you the ability Grips are made of plastic, cork or foam, most common is turned cork. Handles have all sorts of shapes. Typical shapes are a full well's grip which looks sort of like 2 knobs on each end of a candle stick. The wide flange shape ends are made so that your hands don't slide off the rod. Full wells are generally on heavier saltwater, salmon and pike rods. A reverse half wells is a grip which has a small knob at the base and tapers like a cone. This shape is generally used on freshwater lighter rods. Other shapes like a Phillip's, Cigar and Fenwick shape were common on older rods. Handle length is important as is the shape and diameter. If you have small hands, you sand a grip down. If you have really big hands, you can look for models with thicker grips.

I like to look for cork which is clean and doesn't have lots of pits. You can use wood filler and sand it out to even an old grip. If a grib is soiled, wash the grip with soap and water, use sand paper to get rid of deep dirt. Extra fine auto grade paper will give a rough grip a nice feel.

Guides: Many old timers call these eyes. This is where the line slides through. The guides allow the line to shoot evenly and direct how the line follows the shape of the rod. There are snake guides which are usually used in the upper section of the tip. Sometimes single foot guides are used which remove mass and weight.

Striping guides are used at the base of the rod. These help to remove the kinks and loops and aid in allowing the line to shoot evenly. Stripping guides have large rings which is made of hard materials like ceramics. If you are buying a used rod check the rings for cracks. If cracked the guide will eventually have to be replaced. Many early cane rods had agate guides which today are quite collectable.

The top is a tip top. This are generally attached with hot melt glue so that the tips can be removed. In looking at rods, one of the most expensive parts of rods is labor and the most labor intensive part is wrapping thread to attach guides. Quality rods have thread wraps. Cheap rods use tape which are sometimes pinstriped with paint to look like thread. Epoxy is used to coat the wraps. Look for clean neat work. Big globs of epoxy add weight in a tip and look like a mother ready to bear twins if done badly.

I have seen commerical rods in which the guides aren't straight. Hold a tip up and run your eye along the tip. If done right, the centers of all the guides will line up. I have seen guides offset, mounted wrong or loose on some top notch brand names.

Try this one..... string a line on a rod. wrap the line around the reel knob and pull on the tip. Look how the line tracks the tip. If the guides are spaced properly, the line should trace the tip in a semi-circle. If the lines cut in a tangent and appear to intersect the tip in points, too few guides are being used and/or the spacing is done wrong.

Weights: Flylines originally were weighed in grains. This makes no sense really because you could have a 3 wieght which was say 100 feet long and one which was 50 feet long and they could weigh exactlly the same. The head however could be completely different.

Today most companies use AFTMA which is the American Fly tackle Manufacturer's Association's standards for flylines. Some flylines today are marketed as power heads, distance lines and such still cheat by changing the flyline shapes while keeping the lengths the same and changing rear running lines. In otherwords, some lines rated as a 6 have a #7 head attached to say a number 5 back.

Lines with a smaller number are lighter. Light lines have less of an impact when they land. Light lines are more difficult to mend and are subject ot lots of problems with wind. Heavier lines are easier to pick-up, mend and shoot.

Here is a quick Guide to Lines and rods:
2-3-4: Used for casting smaller flies at a close distance. These rods are hard to cast heavily weighted flies. Casts are often delicate and landing is important. Ideal for dries, small streams, creeks. Because the rod is light, care must be used in landing and playing the fish. If you apply to much pressure, the rod will break. If you catch bigger fish on these outfits, land them quickly to take the stress of the tip.

4-5-6: A heavier rod is better for large dries, hoppers, streamers or casting things like woolies or bead flies. When coupled with a longer length, the rods mend , pick up and roll cast easier. A heavier rod can add more distance since it has less troubles with wind. Ideal for river fishing, ponds, lake fishing and such.

7-8-9: Bigger lines mean bigger fish. Lines are easier to throw, pick up and shoot. They also are not as delicate. Casting dries and getting a soft landing is harder. These rods have more leverage and are useful for playing and fighting bigger fish. Useful for bass fishing, saltwater and salmon fishing. These are great rods to use with any sort of weighted flies or sinking lines. Bigger rods are heavy and can wear you out from repeated casts.

Sizes 10 and up are usually big game outfits for bluewater fish like tarpon and sailfish.

Quick Notes on Lining. Most people think that if a rod is rated as a 4 it can only cast a number 4. NOT TRUE! For nearly every rod on the market you can go up or down at least 1 number. Over lining is adding a heavier line, underlining is lowering the weight. Much has to do with how the rod bends and how stiff it is. If a rod feels fast or stiff, lower the weight. If it feels soft or slow, speed it up by increasing the weight by one. In otherwords: I had a stiff, 7 weight, I put an 8 on it and it is much softer and slower. Most heavy rods are way too stiff. It is one way a rod maker can cheat and make a rod add distance and make it faster.

Rod Materials: Rods have been made of fiberglass, bamboo and graphite. Today the majority of the rods are graphite. Rods are made by rolling sheets of graphite material on a metal cone called a mandrell. The sheets are coating with a rosin and baked at a high temperature. The rods are then sanded and painted. Sometimes fibers are laid straight along the inside of the graphite sheet before it is rolled. Usually they use fiberglass fibers or sometimes boron to give it strength. A modulus rating is how stiff the material is, the higher the stiffer it is.
Rods, Reels and such:

I NOW sell rods!

I cast alot of different brands and picked out these two as some of my favorties:

Temple Fork Rods: Tempkle Fork Rods have a flat black finish. All guides are top quiality, thread wrapped with nice accents. Handles are high grade cork and seats are either metal or a woven graphite with an an uplock. Prices start at $80 . Travel rods start at $140-180. Endorsed by Lefty Kreh. All Temple Fork Rods come with a No Fault Warranty. If You break a rod for any reason, return it to Temple Fork with $25 and they will repair or replace your rod.

Elkhorn Rods: Elkhorn Rods begin with simple things which make it a great rod. All Elkhorn rods feature top quality guides, windings, nice cork grips and great looking reel seats made with top quality hardware.The blanks have a moderate to fast action and have the great combination of delicacy and control. All rods come in a cloth covered rod tube with a stiched logo attached to the side. So whether you are casting big bass bugs, shooting bonefish flies or casting a size 28 trico to rising trout, Elkhorn has a rod to fit your needs. 2 piece rods start at $150, 3 piece rods start at $195, 4 piece travel rods start at $160.

J Ryall Reels: I have just added this line of fine reels to my line-up. J Ryall reels are one of the best made USA reels. These reels are competitively priced , using the finest materials and machining. J Ryall Reels are ideal for coldwater, warmwater or saltwater fishing. Each reel is machined of bar stock and come with one of the best disc drags on the market. The precision drag allows the reels to turn like a finely tuned clock. From the lightest of tippets to a heart thumping tarpon, these reels will improve your chances at catching and landing a trophy fish.

Targus Tippets and Leaders
Targus leaders and tippets are some of the best buys on the market. Targus Leaders have set a new world standard for performance, strength and value. These leaders can be used right out of the package or modified to any design you prefer using the extra strong Targus tippet material.

WOW! Check out these Prices!

Targus 2 Pack 9ft Leaders: 0x to 7x: $4.00
Targus 2 Pack 7 1/2 ft Leaders: 3x to 7x: $4.00

Targus Premium Tippet Material
Premium Mono Tippet: Great tippet material at a great price.
Soft, supple and strong, you will love this tippet. 0x to 7x: $3.50

Targus Fluorcarbon Tippet Material: Fluorcarbon gives extra strength and reduces light refraction allowing you to use a heavier weight. Tippet is almost invisible & if you aren't using it, you are missing alot of fish that I am catching. 0x to 7x: $8.50
New Stuff:
I just added Bugskin at your reuquest. Fine split leather with a polished back. Use for making leeches, stoneflies and such. Med borwn. Black, Bright Gold, CreamCrackled holoskin, Caddis Green, Black/ Silver, Mottled Brown. $5.00 a pack

White Goose CDC: My popular goose cdc in blue dun now comes in natural white. Ideal for wings, emergers and such. $1.75

Mikeskin: Tanned split goat in a suede finish. Two colors only: Black, Claret. $2.50


Summer Garage Sale:

As some of you know I quit smoking awhile ago. Too many Oreos and Dairy Queens later, this stuff won't fit. I am not kidding myself that I will loose the belly any time soon. I decided to thin some of this tackle down a bit. This is really nice stuff I don't want to give away but would like to find a new home for it. Great for a bigger kid or fishing spouse or as backups.

Hodgman Nylon Waders, Stocking Foot, Sizes S, NO LEAKS, $35

Cablea's Canvas Wading Soes with Rubber Soles, ( Ideal for dirt, wet wading and the River), Size 8: $25.00

Streamline Nylon and Rubber Shorty Raincoat, Tan , Size M, $25.00

Hodgman Lakestream IV, Stocking Foot Waders, 5mm Neoprene, Size M. Ideal for steelheading or salmon fishing. Good shape, no leaks, some patches. Lots of life left. $35

Scientific Angler System One 4-5-6 reel. This is a tank of a reel, it won't die. Prawl and spring with adjustable drag. Counter balance with palming rim. 3 extra spools included. $45. Some spools have backing some don't. Spools were $25 each originally. Great for back-ups, sinking tips or as an additional outfit.

LL Bean Angler 2 Reel. Made by Martin, counter balance. Ideal for 5-6-7, Adjustable click drag. Loaded with backing and a free DT6F Cortland 333 slime line. $25.00

I have also have an extra 8 weight. Andros reel. Counter balance, disc drag. A few chipped paint spots. Spooled up, right hand retrive comes with ultra 3 bass taper, floating-tan color, plus 220 yards of backing. Ready to fish. This is one of my salmon rigs and has landed many brutes OVER 30 lbs! $75.00.

Sale stuff Materials:

WOW! Dozen Wires & Tinsels: I found some old Indian tinsels and you save. Metallic flat and embossed tinsels, wire. 12 mixed colors Price: $6.00

Poly Yarn: Poly yarn makes nice spinners or parachute wings. Great stuff. 4 colors: White, Orange, Yellow and Lt. Dun. WAS $1.00/ pack NOW get all the colors for $2.00.

Everything Listed Here for a Buck! I found a supplier that went out of business and I am selling all this stuff for a buck. First come, first served when it's gone that's it.


1/4" Stick on Whitch Craft Eyes: Prizm sticker eyes. These are ideal for saltwater and bass bugs. Colors: Yellow, Red, White, Green. $1.00 a pack.
Lite Brite Dubbing Packs: Single packs of dubbing. Use for highlites or as dubbing. Can use as streamer hair too. Colors: Copper, Pearl, Blue, Green , Purple, Fushia, Green, Silver, Gold. $1.00 a pack.
A Wild Hair: Assorted packs of deer, elk, wool for heads, spinning or wings. Colors and styles: Olive Elk Hock, Purple Deer Body, Flo Blue Deer Belly, Borwn Deer Body, Yellow Elk, Red Deer Belly, Dark Brown Sculpin Wool, Black Sculpin Wool, Purple Sculpin Wool: $1.00 a pack.

Dubbing Delight: Mix of dubbings all useful: Sand Antron, Olive Dun Haretron. Highlander Green African Goat, Superfine Mahogany Brown, Black Squirrel, Claret Squirrel. $1.00 a pack.

Fishing Report: Too much rain! Many of the Catskill streams are high and dirty. If you want to travel, head North. Adirondacks are hot. Most of the rains missed them. Check out Fran Better's site for more info. If it dries out this week try Cayuta Creek. Top dries are the Ausable Wullf, Lite Cahill and Elk Hair Caddis sizes 12-14. I fished the Inlet and Outlet for Owasco the past 2 weeks. Lots of nice fish. Same flies caught fish plus a few bead head woolies and such. The locals tell me that the Outlet which flows through Auburn stays clean even after a heavy rain. Big Drakes due on on Skanatles. ( I can never spell this. ) Some time soon.
Contact: Mike Hogue, 622 W. Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068, phone 607-347-4946 or email:
As usual if you want to be deleted from this list for any reason, let me know. Hope you enjoyed this! Contact: Mike Hogue, Badger Creek Fly Tying, 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068. 607-347-4946. Email:, Web Site:

See you soon! Mike


For more Info Contact:

Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068

Phone: 607-347-4946